Active recreation on the water is not only kayaks. If you want to try something new take a paddle and jump on a board!

SUP is a very fast-growing water sport that has already gained a whole bunch of fans around the world. It is practiced by young and old alike. Its popularity is also growing steadily in the US, increasing its audience year after year. It is worth taking an interest in this form of activity, as it is a relatively easy technique, and provides a great deal of satisfaction.

What is this SUP?

SUP stands for Stand Up Paddle or stand-up paddling. The sport involves floating a board on the water (usually in a standing position) and setting it in motion with a single paddle (paddles). The name “paddleboarding” is also often used.

A SUP board is similar in appearance to that used in windsurfing, only without the boom and sail, or to a surfboard. However, it is definitely larger than the latter. Single-person boards are the most popular, although boards for two or more people are also encountered. An important part of the board is the leash – a harness fastened to the board and to the leg at ankle height or below the knee. In the event of a fall into the water, the board will always stay nearby, it won’t get carried away by the wind, nor will you have to swim for it.

Unlike surfing or windsurfing, when sailing a SUP board you don’t have to wait for wind or waves. Having a paddle, you can sail even in windless weather, on a smooth sheet of water.

Where did the idea for SUP boards come from?

Paddle-powered boards or rafts have been known for a long time. Most people living in coastal areas used such. In ancient times, people in South America, Africa, the Middle East, or China used narrow boards equipped with a single paddle or pole to fish and show off their skills in “taming” the waves.

In today’s form, SUP was born as early as the 20th century in Hawaii. Surf instructors in Waikiki began assisting themselves with a paddle in order to keep a better eye on their students and get to them faster when needed.

From Hawaii, paddle boards made their way to California, and in the 1990s a separate recreational activity was established. The beginning of the real fashion of SUP paddleboarding was in the first and second decades of our century. Today SUP is already a worldwide sport and is gaining more admirers extremely quickly, including in the US.

You might be interested to read how to choose the Best SUP Kayak Hybrid.

SUP is an activity for everyone

Recreational SUP board swimming does not require special preparation or exceptional skills. It is an activity in which anyone can try their hand, regardless of gender, age, or experience. Willingness and basic physical fitness are enough. That’s why SUP board can also be used by people who do not have an active lifestyle on a daily basis, seniors, and children. Of course, the youngest should always swim under adult supervision. But it is enough that they have enough strength to handle the paddle and learn to keep their balance on the water, and then SUP will become great fun for them.

SUP is really simple

The basics of SUP board swimming are simple. It doesn’t take long to master them. The most important thing is to learn how to balance while standing on the board and how to operate the paddle.

In the beginning, it is best to start from a kneeling position in the middle of the board and only then slowly get up on your feet. In order to maintain balance, it is important to have your feet properly spaced on the board. They should be parallel in the middle of the board and spaced about the width of our shoulders. Keeping your feet too close together is a basic mistake that promotes tipping. Knees are bent slightly to cushion the ripples of the water under the board. The back should remain straight. The alignment of our head and eyesight is also important. We look in front of us, not direct our gaze to the board. This also affects maintaining our balance.

When swimming on a SUP board, you also need to hold the paddle properly, that is, with both hands in front of you. Your hands should be spread wide, as a short grip greatly limits the force with which you can push off from the water. The paddle blade should be completely submerged in the water. We paddle with our arms relatively straight. We need to feel the back muscles working. This is the most effective way of pushing off, then we do not lose too much strength.

SUP – not just standing

The standing position is the main position taken on a SUP board, but not the only possible one. The SUP board, due to its versatility, allows us to swim also in a sitting, kneeling, and even lying position.

The sitting position is similar to the technique used when kayaking. However, due to the low weight of the board and its high buoyancy, by swimming in this position we can achieve a speed much faster than in a kayak.

The kneeling position is recommended in the initial phase of SUP swimming, as a transitional technique between standing and sitting. Lying down while swimming is the easiest of the SUP board swimming methods. We can lie down on our stomach or back controlling the drift of the board with hand movements. This technique is recommended for people who want to experience relaxation and tranquility, as well as amateurs of sunbathing.

SUP is an excellent full-body workout

Standing on a SUP board and paddling at the same time provides a comprehensive workout for the whole body. Even in calm water, almost all the muscles of our bodywork.

Leg, abdominal and back muscles ensure the maintenance of the correct center of gravity, stability, and balance. With the movement of the paddle, the upper muscles work – from the muscles of the shoulders, and chest through the quadrilateral muscles of the back to the abdominal muscles. Importantly, our effort also forces the deep muscles, also known as stabilization muscles, to work. They are responsible for correct posture and support our spine.

If you spend enough time on the water, put a lot of effort into paddling regularly and really fatigue your muscles by swimming upwind or against the current, you will find that SUP boards are also an excellent cardio workout. Not only will you burn a lot of calories, but most importantly you will strengthen your cardiovascular system.

It is also worth noting that swimming on SUP boards is a low-injury activity. While swimming, the weight is distributed evenly over the whole body, so the risk of tendon damage and joint strain is really low.

Close to nature

SUP is not only a great workout for the body, but an excellent choice for people who lead stressful lifestyles. Sailing on a SUP board at an unhurried pace, you can easily commune with nature and watch the scenery around you. The daily rush and busyness will stay somewhere far away, and you can enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the surrounding nature. You don’t have to paddle all the time, you can lie down on the board and let it float you freely. Such physical activity surrounded by nature is great for lowering stress levels, taking your mind off the worries of everyday life, and giving you lots of positive energy.


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